By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Philippines and China fought to a goalless draw in their Group A match in the second-round of qualification for FIFA World Cup 2022 on Tuesday night at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City.
Needing to get a win and the full three points that go with it to advance their respective causes in the qualifiers, the two teams instead saw themselves getting a point each from the draw.
The Philippine Azkals and the visiting side showed spirited fight all throughout the match but just would not get the needed breakthrough they were angling for in regulation and in the added five minutes.
With the draw, China (2-1-0) saw its hot start in the second round halted but still leads the grouping with seven points from three matches, ahead of second-running Syria (2-0-0), which was still playing Guam as of press time, with six points.
The Philippines (1-1-1) improved to four points, good for solo third ahead of Maldives (1-0-2) with three points and Guam (0-0-3) at fifth.
“It was a team performance. Every player in the bench was unbelievable throughout the week. We did not get the win but at least we got a point from the draw and something to build on,” said Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who finally played in the qualifiers after missing the first two games because of injury.
The Philippines next plays on Nov. 14 against Maldives in Male while China faces off versus Syria on the same date in Dubai.
In the second round of qualification, the Philippines hopes to finish on top of the grouping, or at a least have one of the best four runner-up records among the eight groups, to advance to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers.